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The day has come—you’ve sent out your writing submissions to carefully researched markets. How exciting! You deserve a pat on the back for all your hard work. While you’re eagerly awaiting the replies (and hopefully acceptances!), Writer’s Relief recommends getting started on another writing project. This way, you’ll be less likely to obsess while waiting! Unfortunately, not obsessing is hard for some writers—and in their enthusiasm, they might get a little…um…carried away. Here are some things you shouldn’t do to be published.
Here’s What You Shouldn’t Do To Get Published
Don’t Be An Overeager Puppy
Have you ever seen a dog wagging its whole body with excitement, waiting for a much-anticipated biscuit? You might feel the same way immediately after submitting your short story, poetry, or book to literary editors or agents. You repeatedly check to see if you’ve missed a call or an e-mail. After all, it’s been a whole week—what’s taking so long? Sit! Take a deep breath. Instead of being anxious and antsy, here’s what you should do while you wait to hear back from agents and editors.
Don’t Hit Speed Dial
Thinking about calling or e-mailing to make sure your submission was received? It’s already been three days! Back away from the computer keyboard and the phone.
Be sure to check the submission guidelines to each place you submit to find out whether or not the editor suggests following up after three to six months (yes, months!). If an editor doesn’t want any follow-up e-mails or calls, it may also be stated in the guidelines. Some writers, especially newbies, ignore the guidelines and proceed to make incessant calls and send a barrage of e-mails inquiring about their recently submitted piece. This will only annoy the editors and their staff, and your name will definitely get out there—just not in the way you want. Badgering agents and editors is a sure way to get on their “annoying writer” lists. But I’m not badgering, I’m being thorough, you insist. Sorry, kiddo…it’s badgering.
Don’t Play The Stephen-King-Is-My-Third-Cousin-Twice-Removed Card
In football this is called a Hail Mary Pass, a desperate attempt made with a very small chance of being successful. While it sometimes works in sports, it never works in publishing—unless Stephen King really is your cousin. And if that were true, we’re pretty sure he’d tell you not to try to wedge your foot in the door with flimsy name-dropping. If you met the editor or agent at a writing conference, or another writer recommended you reach out, you can certainly mention that in your letter. But don’t overreach by claiming a connection that isn’t real.
Don’t Use An Everything-And-The-Kitchen-Sink Cover Or Query Letter
You definitely want to send a well-written cover or query letter with your submissions. But keep in mind, cover letters and query letters are not the same! A cover letter should have an introductory sentence and a brief bio—nothing more. A query letter should have those same elements and a book blurb that’s no longer than 150-200 words. Don’t mention you’ve been writing since you were two years old, or that you won a spelling bee in seventh grade, or that your neighbor Reba will be so jealous when you are a famous author—these will all peg you as an amateur. If you don’t feel confident about writing your own letter, the experts at Writer’s Relief can help—we’ve been writing effective query letters and cover letters for over twenty-six years. We wrote the book on great query letters! Seriously, it’s called The Ultimate Query Letter Tool Kit and you can order your copy today!
Don’t Send Extravagant Gift Baskets
Put down that basket of adorable puppies! Sending editors or agents gift baskets with champagne, chocolate, or kiwis may seem like a clever way to boost your submission’s odds of acceptance, but it’s not. Some agents and editors may even take offense at what appears to be a thinly veiled bribe. Instead of picking out candies, spend your time researching and picking out the best markets for your work. The outcome will be much more rewarding—plus you get to keep all the puppies.
Here’s The One Thing You SHOULD Do To Get Published
If you really want to do something effective to boost your odds of getting published, let the expert submission strategists at Writer’s Relief help! Since 1994, our top-notch researchers have helped writers like you pinpoint the very best markets for their work. Our strategy works—we have tons of happy clients singing our praises (aw, thanks, we’re blushing!).
Find out how Writer’s Relief can help you get published. Submit your writing sample to our Review Board today!
Question: How do you give your writing submissions an advantage?